Summary: This sermon is a personal opinion on racism. Author in 2000, redone in 2008
Looking America in the face
Because I was born on July 9, 1964 on Lakeland Farms in rural Perry County, the early years of my life were filled with the evidence of the racial prejudices and the demeaning injustices that we faced as African Americans. For the first sixteen of my life, I was forced to recognize the fact that I truly lived in a segregated society. I grew up in a mostly African American community where my grandfather worked on a dairy farm. Often I would witness him refer to various Caucasians as mister or madam, even though he would be much older than they would be. I attended a segregated school and worshipped at a segregated church where the usual topics of discussion included some references of how the American society was treating us as a people. In spite of the words that I learned to repeat as I faced the American flag, in reality, I came to understand that I lived in a country that was actually many different nations under God. I came to realize this country was divided. Moreover, I came to realize that it offered liberty and justice only to those that belonged to the desired race and/or had enough money to purchase it.
As I left the comforts and seclusion of my small rural beginnings in 1981 to venture into the vast world, my heart was filled with the hope of discovering the America that I was taught about in school. I yearned to find the America that was shaped by the idea that all men were created equal. I yearned to find the America that was built upon the foundation of liberty and justice for all. I left Alabama, moved to Miami with my mother, and enrolled in American Senior High School. Even though I would no longer face the unmistakable racism of rural Perry County, I soon discovered that in America, the preferred way of life was indeed segregation. Moreover, the America that I was taught about in school did not exist.
During the decades since I left rural Perry County, I have had the chance to travel this great country. The one thing that I see no matter where I go is we are still a country that has not fully erased the lines that divide us. When I wake up in the morning, I find myself waking up in an America that still encourages us to place separating barriers on ourselves. I wake up to an America that is actually many nations, under many gods. I wake up to an America that has divided itself into many segregated communities of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Japanese Americans, Irish Americans, Native Americans, and White Americans. I wake up to an America that offers liberty and justice to all only if they are of the desired race and/or have enough money to purchase it.
In the four and a half decades since the start of the American Civil Rights Movement and my birth, the American society has yet to come to grips with the words that the founding fathers of this country penned in the sacred pages of our constitution. These words mention something about us holding certain truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal and are endowed by God with certain right, which includes life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Even though these very words have been repeated and included in various sermons, commentaries, and articles, America remains at a complete loss to the real meaning of these words. Over the years, America has been constantly trying to reshape itself into the nation that is presented in the preamble. Yet for some reason, we have still fallen short. True, we have gotten rid of slavery and other injustices that were placed upon various minorities. Yet, we have picked up other injustices and now fight to make them a part of our permanent society.